Last week, I had the tremendous pleasure of visiting Greens Farms Academy. As I've been there many times before, I expected the thoughtful dialogue with colleagues and staff.
However, something happened that I DIDN'T EXPECT. I got to have lunch with Claudia.
Claudia is an insightful, thoughtful, creative 8th grader who is currently doing her middle school capstone project on the efficacy of school reform. Since most of my projects involve some form of curricular or school reform, she asked to interview me over lunch. I expected her to ask me about "testing" and the "unfairness of school." You know, typical middle school stuff.
Well, I was shocked when her first question referenced Sir Ken Robinson and the need for creativity in schools. This girl has clearly done her homework. In her opinion, all students need the opportunity to learn in classrooms where students are doing meaningful work
She thinks that students should have time for extended discussions about difficult topics. (See this blog post about the Harkness.) She thinks that schools should be places where students apply what their learning to real situations. She wants to be creative. She wants to make things. And mostly, she doesn't want schools to become sterile places where students merely parrot back facts and procedures.
She sees school reform as something that happens inside classrooms WITH teachers, not external reorganizations or legislative mandates.
So... this is a call for help. What resource has inspired you to make you classroom a place that fosters authentic work and divergent thinking? Can you share a quote, a book, or a link that will help Claudia grow her learning and refine her writing? Leave ideas in the comments or tweet me at @KristenSwanson.